Nam Huynh:
Unconventional Directions

Interviewed by F. P.

You have been active in international design awards for the past few years. Does your participation in these awards have a certain symbolic significance?

I like group exhibitions. They proof that it's impossible to choose just one good design. Even a group exhibition will only represent the tip of the ice berg. To me they have always been a great source of inspiration. And something that’s better than watching a good party is to actually participate.

What do you think about designers' mission?

I think a design needs to fit to the personality of the people it represents. Otherwise your client will reject your proposal. But if the client is open to an experimental approach I’m more than willing to lead them into an unconventional direction.

One reason why some designs might appear scary to people might be that I’m a big fan of horror, but that’s just a conclusion. Another reason might be that spectrum of aesthetics isn’t limited by what’s beautiful. If you’re willing to explore all possibilities interesting results will follow.  

Do you expect to respond to certain issues through your practice, whether in a social, artistic, or philosophical aspect?

Social and environmental responsibilities are topics that will keep rising in their importance since the problems don’t seem to go away by themselves. Especially the pandemic and the BLM movement have caused people to deal with questions about racism, how they want to contribute to their society or how to approach the climate change. I see that especially young designers become very active when it comes to their social engagement. It’s not a carefree generation that takes everything for granted and it becomes very vocal when it sees injustice.

I have also been thinking about how I can engage myself, but I still need to learn how to channel my messages because something that nobody needs is more misinformation.

Please share your observation and understanding of graphic design in Asia with us?

I have only been to South Korea so far, but I would love to visit other Asian countries as well. I know that it’s a big difference to experience design in their local environment instead via social media. In general I love how a lot of Asian designers show the influence of Asian pop culture in their work. I’m sure that graphic design can help to bring Asian cultural assets to an international stage.

Asian countries are now actively looking for a country-based visual style. What do you think of this phenomenon? Will Europe develop its style mainly based on the country? 

I think that design is always shaped by culture. So the region might be one factor, but so is music, fashion, generation, social status etc. If you look at rap music for example, you can often discover worldwide similarities in its visual representation. So I wouldn’t say that European countries are actively working on styles that represent a country. Similarities do happen, but rather unconsciously.

Is your preference for music reflected in your work?

I love to listen to music during the work. I don’t prefer any specific genre, it rather changes from time to time. At the moment I like to rush through my working day with acid house and European techno. I like the sets of Amelie Lens or Charlotte de Witte. It’s also a little compensation for missing out clubbing. 

Do you consider that your personal aesthetics are close to complete?

Haha, well I hope not! I’ve been on the market for only three years. But seriously, I love the amount of tools that can help me to develop my design. It’s important to me to dedicate enough time to learn about new possibilities. As long I’m able to do this my personal aesthetics will hopefully keep evolving.

What is your expectation for your career?

A friend told me once to consider three aspects when you work on a project: Having fun, getting paid well and learn something new. Every project should fulfill at least two of these conditions. But how great would it be if I all 3 of them were to be true all the time.

Published in May 3, 2021
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